The Frank Lampard era is over at Chelsea, as he was sacked by the Stamford Bridge board following a string of poor results.
Chelsea were top of the league in December following a win over Leeds, but five defeats in eight games since then have seen them fall 12 points behind league leaders Manchester United since then and it’s been enough for the club hierarchy to make the decision to let him go.
The news was quickly followed up with reports that he will be immediately replaced by German manager Thomas Tuchel, who was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain in December after an inconsistent season in France.
Tuchel is known for attacking football, with quick transitions and possession being the priority. He made his name as the Borussia Dortmund manager, where the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Marco Reus flourished under his management.
With Chelsea’s squad having just had a £220m injection of new players in the summer, it will be interesting to see how Tuchel sets up his team for the remainder of the season.
In goal, Edouard Mendy was the undisputed first choice under Lampard following his signing in the summer but reports say that the board are still keen for Kepa Arrizabalaga to be a success after spending £72m on him and giving him a seven-year contract back in 2018.
It’s possible that he could feel the pressure to select Kepa, but Mendy has performed well since joining and their distribution skills aren’t that different. Mendy should get the nod, but you never know once club politics come into it.
In defence, Thiago Silva will be the undisputed number one centre back at the club. The two worked together at PSG and Silva was the captain, so he will be in the side not only for his ability but also because he will know what the manager expects of him. Alongside him, Kurt Zouma has been a regular so far this season but Rudiger was a target for Tuchel at PSG earlier this season so he could come into the side.
Reece James’ performances and skillset should see him keep his place in the side as an attacking full-back, while Ben Chilwell and Emerson will continue to compete for the left-back spot. Chilwell is younger and better defensively, but Emerson is quicker and arguably better going forward. Depending on the way Tuchel looks to set up his team, Emerson has a good shout of becoming a regular.
In midfield, Ngolo Kante has been a sure-fire starter ever since joining the Blues and that is likely to continue here. A defensive midfielder with energy and an ability to break up play and press high, Kante fits the role perfectly of what Idrissa Gueye filled at PSG and Ilkay Gundogan did prior to that at Dortmund.
Alongside him, Tuchel is likely to want someone who is more competent on the ball and comfortable in possession. While Jorginho is a candidate, his lack of athleticism has seen him struggle hugely since joining the Premier League. Mason Mount has been a mainstay under Lampard and played relatively well but without having a relationship to the club and academy, Tuchel will likely opt for Mateo Kovacic over those options.
Ahead of them, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are a huge reason as to why the club have brought him into the club as manager. The club were keen to have a German speaking manager to help them settle in better so they will almost certainly be the starters in the team as a number ten and the central striker.
Either side of them will be interesting. With his preference for possession and overlapping full-backs, Hakim Ziyech’s passing ability will likely see him secure his position on the right wing. On the left though, it’s more open.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been good in spells this season but not really given the opportunity of a run of games from the start. His preferred position is to play on the left so he can drive onto his right foot and shoot, but he’s just as capable going on the outside and crossing too. The issue for him comes that Christian Pulisic played under Tuchel at Dortmund as a youngster and broke into the side for him.
He will know the skillset of the player, but more importantly the player will already be aware of the demands placed on him and expectations that the manager will have. Hudson-Odoi is arguably the better player right now, but Tuchel will want some familiarity to his methods if he can get it because it’s mid-season and this could buy Pulisic more time in the starting lineup.
Tuchel will need results and performances to pick up quickly to get fans on side with the decision to sack Lampard and bring him in and his team selections will be under scrutiny immediately.
Welcome to the Premier League, Thomas!